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Monday, July 9, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Remember those creamsicle popsicles we had as kids? This is those in cookie form.

**I have no idea if anyone is actually following this blog, but probably I won't be updating until late August due to travel and moving** 

Creamsicle Cookies
makes like 20ish
adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Not gonna lie, her recipe is pretty much perfect, so I didn't actually modify the ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
zest of two good-sized oranges
2 cups white chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
1. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars.  Add egg and vanilla until well mixed.  Mix in flour mixture.  Stir in zest and chips.
3. Drop balls of dough on a parchment paper'd cookie sheet somewhat spaced out.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just lightly browned.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Candied Bacon and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Yup.  These speak for themselves.  Though, it's worth mentioning that I ran out of chocolate chips, so I chopped up a bunch of fun size Hershey bars that were lying around and it was SO much better than chocolate chips.

Candied Bacon and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
makes around 50 cookies (I usually make a half recipe)
modified from the famous Toll House recipe

6 strips of bacon + more if you're prone to eating the ingredients ;)
brown sugar

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
2 tsp maple syrup
2 large eggs
12 oz chocolate, chopped (chips work too)

1. Rub brown sugar in to the bacon until it is well-coated.  Place on a foil-lined cookie sheet, and put in an oven set to 400 degrees for about 20 min, or until the bacon looks well cooked.  Let cool, and try not to eat it all.
2. Lower the oven temp to 375 degrees.  Mix flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, mix butter and the sugars until fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs, and mix well.  Add flour mixture.
4. By now the bacon should be cool, so chop it into small pieces.  Add the delicious bacon and chocolate to the dough.
5. Place rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased or parchment paper'd cookie sheets.  Bake for 9-11 min.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs

This is one of my and my roommates' favorite entrees!

Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs
serves 4
Adapted from Annie's Eats

1 pound or so of chicken breasts or tenderloins
Zest from 1 lemon
3 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves of minced garlic (or more if you really like garlic!)
1 tsp minced parsley
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1. In a medium bowl, whisk all of the non-chicken ingredients.  Cut the chicken into large bite-sized pieces.  Add to bowl and coat well.  Cover and refrigerate for 2-8 hours.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees (although grilling them tastes better if you have a grill).  Thread chicken onto 4 metal skewers, and place on a cookie sheet.  Cook for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Turn once or twice during the 15 min.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Key Lime Pie

Um, yum!

Key Lime Pie
serves about 8-9
Adapted from Allrecipes and Allrecipes

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup white sugar
6 Tb melted, unsalted butter

3 cups sweetened condensed milk (if you come up like 1/3 cup short, it's not a bit deal)
1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup key lime juice (if you juice them yourself, get a designated lime juicer)
1 Tb lime zest (sorry I can't give an exact number of limes)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix crumbs, sugar, and butter, and press into a 8-9 inch pie pan.  Bake for 7 minutes.
2. Lower oven temperature to 350.  Mix condensed milk, sour cream/yogurt, lime juice, and zest.  Pour into crust, and gently tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles.  Bake for 5-8 minutes, until tiny bubble form in the middle, but do not let the pie brown.
3. Let cool, then chill for several hours.  Serve with lime slices or whipped cream.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Restaurant Quality Burgers

This burger is so good, you'll want to eat it plain.

Flavorful Burgers and Buns
serves 4 (but I suggest serving with sweet potato fries sprinkled with chipotle chile powder)
Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride and Little Miss Momma

Buns: (makes 8)
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbs canola oil
2 large eggs
3 Tbs sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)

1. In a medium bowl, let yeast and water sit for 10 minutes.
2. Add 1 egg, oil, and sugar.  Then add flour, salt, and cheese.  Mix until it forms a consistent dough.
3. Kneed on a floured surface, until it is no longer sticky.  Transfer to an oiled bowl.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
4. On a floured surface, form in to 8 balls.  Place on parchment paper'd cookie sheets on top of oven, flatten the balls slightly, cover with a damp towel, and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
5. After the 20 minutes, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Allow the dough to rise some more.
6. Wisk one egg with 1 Tb water.  Brush onto the tops of the buns.  Bake for 20-30 min.
(more directions below)

Burger patties:
Around a pound of ground beef (90/10)
2 oz cheese of your choice grated (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
season salt
onion powder
ground black pepper

1. Mix everything and form into four balls.
2. Flatten them slightly, pressing in the center so that there is an indentation (this prevents the burgers from being to thick to fit your mouth around) Like this:

When the bread comes out of the oven to cool, fry up some bacon and put the patties on a grill.  Don't have a BBQ?  Not a problem!  A pan on medium heat will work well, but a panini maker or George Foreman grill will work better.
When the bacon is done, mop most of the grease off of the pan, and put the buns face-down on it, and cook until the insides are delicious, like this:  It will prevent the bread from getting soggy.  Yay!

Let the burgers cook for about 8 minutes, and then flip them.  Flipping them too early may cause them to fall apart.  Cook the other side for 8 minutes or so and serve.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Homemade White Cheddar Cheese-its

Yes, it's true.  You CAN make your own cheese-its at home!  They're way better than store-bought ones, and therefore disappear faster...
I had a giant block of free white cheddar cheese lying around from competing in the Grilled Cheese Invitational, so that's what I used for this.  Oh, and here was my sandwich that I entered:
It was called "A Cheesy Romance"

White Cheddar Cheese-its
makes about 2 cups
Adapted from A Golden Afternoon

8 oz white cheddar cheese (or really, most cheeses will work), shredded
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup flour
2 tbs cold water

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cream together cheese, salt, and butter.  Add flour, and mix until it looks like crumbs.  Add water, and mix so that a dough is formed, adding more water if absolutely needed.
3. Roll out dough on a floured surface so that it's 1/8 inch thick.  Cut as desired.  I made boring squares because I know they wouldn't make it off the pan.  However, my artist roommate painstakingly made fancy ones (see below)
4. Put crackers on a cookie sheet (I used parchment paper, but maybe you don't need it?) and bake for 12 minutes.  Try not to burn your mouth on the hot crackers!

They're best on the day you bake them but they're still good for a few days (If they last that long!)

(Habanero cheddar flower-shaped cheese-its)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Toasted Ravioli

Bored of pasta in sauce?  Have I got THE thing for you! (though you can dip them in marinara sauce if you'd like)  The yumminess to effort ratio here is fantastic!  Could be an entree or a finger food appetizer.

Toasted Ravioli
servings vary

Refrigerated ravioli (follow serving suggestions from the package)
Zesty Italian Dressing
Italian Bread crumbs

1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees
2. Pour Italian dressing and bread crumbs in to two separate bowls.
3. Dip each piece in dressing, roll it in bread crumbs and put it on a cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 10 minutes, and enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti

Lemon and garlic is such a great combination, and this is really easy to make if you have only about 20 minutes to make a meal

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti
serves 1 (but it's easily doubled or quadrupled)
modified from i nom things

4 oz spaghetti (I approximately divide 16 oz packs in to 1/4's)
1/2 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
2 tsp olive oil
2 tb shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tb lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)
black pepper, to taste

1. Cook olive oil and garlic in a metal measuring cup (weird, right?) over medium-low heat, until fragrant
2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package
3. Dump the non-spaghetti ingredients in a bowl and mix quickly so the cheese doesn't clump.  Add spaghetti, mix, and serve

Monday, May 7, 2012

Brownie-Candy Bar Hybrid

I got this originally from a friend of mine who calls them "Philanthropy Brownies" since they're irresistible at charity auctions. Seriously, these things are really addictive.

Brownie-Candy Bar Hybrid
serves around 18
Thank you Sara Ford for the idea, Brown Eyed Baker for the brownie/topping, and the Food Network for the frosting!

Brownie base:
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbs semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a 9x13 pan
2. Melt unsweetened chocolate, butter, and 1/4 cup + 2 tbs chocolate chips, carefully, either in the microwave or over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Set aside to cool.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.  In bowl #3, whisk eggs well.  Add sugar and vanilla until well-mixed. Add chocolate mixture.  Stir in the powdery ingredients.  Add 1/4 cup (or more if you like) chocolate chips.
4. Pour into pan and distribute evenly into a thin layer.  Use a spatula to get as much batter as you can out.  Bake for 20 minutes.
5. Let cool for at least an hour, and then make the buttercream.

Buttercream frosting: (this is my go-to vanilla frosting recipe)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter 
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbs heavy whipping cream

1. Cream butter (I find it's easiest to leave the butter out for several hours so it's really soft).  Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream.  Mix well, and add more cream, if necessary for a spreadable consistency.
2. Spread evenly on brownie pan.

Peanut butter crunch topping:
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup smooth (non-"natural") peanut butter
1 tb butter
1 1/2 cups rice crispies cereal

Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in microwave or on stove, until just melted and smooth.  Stir in cereal, and spread over the brownie and frosting pan.  

Chill for several hours and cut into squares. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Best Mac n' Cheese I know of

This is the greatest mac n' cheese I have ever eaten. Ever. You won't regret making this!

Awesome Cheddar Lover's Mac n' Cheese
serves 4 hungry people
Adapted from My Cooking Quest

8 oz (about 2 1/2 cups) pasta of your choice
Cheese Sauce (see below)
Additional 2 oz cheddar cheese (1/2 cup shredded)
1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
3 strips cooked bacon (optional)

Cheese Sauce
2 tbs butter
1/6 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
8 oz cheddar cheese (approximately 2 cups shredded)
1/4 tsp kosher salt (or table salt)
1/4 tsp chile powder
1 clove of garlic, minced

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a dish of at least 8 x 8, and no larger than 9 x 13.
2. Cook pasta according to package, but undercook it slightly.  Drain, and set aside.
3. Make sauce by melting butter in a pot over medium heat.  Mix in flour.
4. Slowly add milk to pot.  Wisk constantly for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens and starts slowly bubbling.
5. Remove from heat, and mix in the 8 oz shredded cheese, salt, garlic, and chile powder until cheese has melted.
6. Add pasta and bacon to sauce, and gently mix.  Pour in to the buttered dish, and top with the 2 oz cheese and chipotle chile powder evenly.
7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese starts bubbling in the middle.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Salted Caramel Nutella Rice Crispy Treats

Salt, caramel, nutella, rice crispies, and treats are all great things. Why not combine them?? ;)

Salted Caramel Nutella Rice Crispy Treats
makes at least 16 servings (it's rich)
Adapted from Mini Baker

6 tbs butter + 2 tb for buttering pan
1 bag of marshmallows (around 10.5 oz)
3 cups rice crispy cereal
at least 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1 cup Nutella
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 tb butter or shortening (I like trans-fat-free natural shortening)

Pre-made caramel sauce or try this one (it's in the middle of the page)

1. Butter a 9 x 13 pan with the 2 tbs (or however much you want to use)
2. Melt remaining 6 tb in a large pot over medium-low heat
3. Stir in marshmallows until they are melted.
4. Add cereal and sea salt and gently mix well
5. Quickly pour into the pan.  Let cool completely.
6. When cereal mix has cooled, melt Nutella, chocolate, and shortening in microwave, using 20 second intervals and stirring until smooth.  Spread over cereal evenly.
7. Make/heat caramel sauce and drizzle it on top.
8. Let it solidify for a an hour or so in the fridge, or serve it messily :P

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Easy Glazed Chicken

I've never been to the Cracker Barrel, but apparently this a clone of their chicken. It's stupidly easy and very flavorful.

Easy Sweet and Savory Chicken
serves about 3
Adapted from Southern Plate

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or an equivalent amount of tenderloins)
1 cup zesty Italian dressing
3 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons lime juice

1. Mix dressing, honey, lime juice.  Pour into a large plastic bag.
2. Remove fat pieces from chicken and cut lengthwise into a couple strips (optional) Place into the bag with the marinade
3. Refrigerate for 1-8 hours
4. Dump into a pan on medium heat.  Cook for about 30-40 minutes, flipping the chicken every 10 minutes, until the liquid evaporates.  Rub the chicken around in the caramelized marinade and serve.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spiced Pecans

We got this recipe from one of my mom's co-workers. They're way too addictive and really easy to make.

Spiced Pecans
makes about 2 cups

1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1 large egg white
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 cups pecan halves

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
2. Mix dry ingredients (that are not pecans) Wisk in egg white and oil. Gently stir in pecans
3. Spread nuts in a single layer on a greased or parchment paper'd cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring twice.
4. Let cool and use a spatula to remove the nuts from the pan, if needed.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

My biggest complaint about peanut butter cookies is that they are greasy and heavy, and that is usually enough to keep me away from them. However, I randomly discovered this recipe on a healthy-ish recipe site, and they are chewy and peanut butter-y without being oily. Maybe it's because I un-healthified them a bit, but these are my favorite peanut butter cookies

Healthier and Yummier Peanut Butter Cookies
makes about 2 dozen
adapted from Eat Better America

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 tbs. honey
1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix sugars, butter, and peanut butter until well-mixed. Add egg and honey until well-mixed. Add remaining ingredients until a consistent dough forms.
2. Shape in to 1 inch balls and space them out on an ungreased cookie sheet (or parchment paper works too). Use a fork to flatten them with the characteristic criss-cross pattern
3. Bake 8-9 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes.

Gooey S'mores Cookies

These are my absolute favorite cookie. "Cookie" was my first word, so that is saying something ;) They're gooey but also chewy with the perfect amount of crispness.

Gooey S'mores Cookiesmakes around 3 dozen
I have no idea where I got this recipe, but it was someone's blog a few years ago. Anyone know which one?
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
(buy crumbs or use a food processor, though hand-crushing can work in a pinch)
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

2 Hershey bars, chopped

1. Combine the butter and sugars until fluffy and well-mixed
2. Add egg and vanilla until combined. Add flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt and baking soda. Mix well. Add chocolate chips.
3. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least an hour (ideally for about 24 hours for some reason)
4. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
5. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, place dough by the rounded tablespoon. Bake for 8 minutes
6. Remove from oven and place bits of Hershey bars and marshmallows on top to your liking. Bake for another 2 minutes, and cool for at least 15 minutes

Monday, March 26, 2012

Perfect Popcorn

Wanna know the secret to the best popcorn ever? Answer: butter. The movie theaters and microwave stuff use oil, but big surprise, butter is MUCH tastier (and oddly enough, easier to clean up)

Perfect Popcorn
serves 3
Inspired by Brown Eyed Baker

6 tbs. popcorn kernels
2 tbs butter (no fake butter!)
3/4 tsp salt

1. Cut butter into little pieces, and put everything into a pot with a lid on the stove
2. Turn the stove to medium heat, and leave the lid ajar so steam can escape
3. After about a minute, shake it gently to get the butter distributed
4. Listen for popping after about 2 minutes. When the popping slows significantly, remove from stove and enjoy.

Quinoa n' Cheese

This fantastic dish gives you all of the yummy flavor and cheesiness of Mac n' cheese, but with more nutrients, fewer calories, and less work. The one thing to be aware of is that quinoa has a slight bitter, earthy taste, but if you rinse it thoroughly, it's not too noticable.

Quinoa n' Cheese
makes 2 large servings
modified from Around the Table

3/4 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well and drained (instructions)
a pinch of salt
1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed
1 egg
1/2 cup of milk
3/4 cup cheddar cheese

Seasoned breadcrumbs
Parmesan cheese (or other toppings of your choice like BACON)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. After rinsing and draining quinoa, cook it according to instructions on box
3. Whisk egg, salt, garlic, milk; add cheese
4. Gently combine quinoa with egg mixture until consistently mixed
5. Portion mixture into oven-safe bowls or ramekins and top with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, or whatever other things you want
*Protip: Put your ramekins on a cookie sheet so they're easier to put in and out of the oven
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are browned, let cool for about 15 minutes and serve

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cheese Popovers

These things are incredible! Whenever I want a bread side dish, this is the first thing that I think of. They're flavorful, have a delightful texture, and are really easy to make!

Cheese Popovers
12 servings
adapted from Nami-Nami

1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp butter, melted
0.5 tsp salt
a pinch of black pepper
5 Tbsp coarsely grated cheddar cheese (or another of your choice)
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp finely chopped dill or chives (optional)

1. Whisk together milk, eggs, flour, melted butter, salt, and pepper until smooth, then stir in cheeses and herbs. Chill at least 1 hour (and up to overnight)
2. Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F with rack in upper third.
3. Butter muffin pan with some extra butter, then heat in oven until butter sizzles, about 2 minutes.
4. Gently stir batter, then divide among muffin cups (they will be about two-thirds full).
5. Bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Melting Cake

This picture really does not do this cake justice. Inside that thin crust is molten chocolate awesomeness. THE ABSOLUTE BEST molten chocolate cake I ever had was on a Carnival Cruise. On the last night my family asked a crew member for the recipe, and sure enough, they gave it to us! My dad scaled the recipe down from 1,000 servings, and here it is:

Chocolate Melting Cake
serves 8
Thank you Carnival Cruises for the recipe!!

17 oz semi-sweet chocolate (a bit less than 3 cups of chocolate chips)

1 cup (2 sticks) + 1 ½ tbs butter

6 medium eggs

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup flour

1. Pre-heat oven to 392 degrees f

2. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave, cooking for 20 second intervals and stirring, or using a double boiler

3. Wisk half of the eggs with the sugar until smooth

4. Add flour and mix

5. Add remaining eggs

6. Combine chocolate mixture with egg mixture until well-mixed

7. Pour into individual ramekins/ceramic bowls/mugs

8. Bake for 13-15 minutes (don't overcook it!!)

9. Serve with ice cream or other topping (optional)

Sweet and Spicy Ribs

I originally used the seasonings on chicken, but it turns out they're fantastic on ribs too!

Sweet and Spicy Baby Back Ribs
serves 2-3

1 rack of baby back ribs
1/4 cup dry rub (below)
1/2 cup honey
1 tb. of apple cider vinegar

Dry Rub
2 tsp powdered garlic
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder

1. mix in a bowl. This rub is so good, I made a 4x recipe and store it in a mason jar so that I don't need to mix it every time I want spicy honey chicken or ribs

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil (it makes cleanup infinitely easier)
2. Rub 1/4 cup of the dry rub all over the ribs
3. Place the ribs on the cookie sheet and bake for 2 1/2 hours
4. Mix 1/2 cup of honey with 1 tb cider vinegar and brush half of the mixture onto the ribs. Place back in the oven for 30 minutes
5. Brush remaining glaze on to ribs and serve

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pound Cake

This is some awesome pound cake. It vanished almost instantly.

Buttery Vanilla Pound Cake
serves about 10
modified from

3 cups sifted cake flour (or 2 1/2 cups + 2 tbs all-purpose flour mixed with 6 tbs corn starch)
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
7 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
powdered sugar, berries, or caramel sauce for garnishing (optional)

1. Don't pre-heat :)
2. Generously butter and flour a pan of your choice (I used two 9 x 3 ish pans)
3. Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.
4. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Add half of flour mixture, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down side of bowl, then beat until batter is creamier and satiny.
5. Spoon batter into prepared pan and rap pan against work surface once or twice to eliminate air bubbles. Place pan in (cold) oven and turn oven temperature to 180°C/350°F. Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 1 to 1 ¼ hours. Cool cake in pan, if you're patient.
6. Remove from pan. Top with powdered sugar, pureed and strained berries, caramel sauce, or whatever else you like (it's good plain too)

Perfect Chocolate Cake

At the moment, I think this is the perfect chocolate cake recipe. It's not as difficult as it looks, and it's completely worth the effort.

Perfect Chocolate Cake
serves about 12

First make this cake: (Though, I think it's best to make it a day ahead of time.)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk (or if you're lame like me, pour 1 tb of lemon juice in to an empty 1 cup measure and pour milk to fill it, let it curdle for a few minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. Then cut circles of parchment paper by tracing the bottom of the pan. Place the parchment paper in to the pan (it will keep the cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan)

2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.

3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.
5. When the cake is fully cool, use a cake leveler (like four bucks at a craft store!) to trim off the dome of the cakes to make them flat. Then cut each piece in half horizontally so that you have discs of cake.

6. Stack the four pieces on a plate with wax paper in between them. Cover the small tower of cake with saran wrap and place in the freezer for at least a few hours (ideally overnight). This is to keep the crumbs from messing up the frosting.

When the cake pieces are frozen, make the ganache:

1 1/2 heavy cream (12 oz)
12 oz. baking chocolate (or 2 cups of chocolate chips)
2 Tb. butter
2 Tb. Sugar

1.Place the chocolate chips in a glass bowl.

2. Heat the cream, butter and sugar in a small pan. Once the cream is just barely simmering, pour it over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.

3. Then whisk until perfectly smooth. Allow the ganache to cool another 10-15 minutes before assembling layers.

Pull the cake out of the freezer and put one disc on your serving plate. Spread 1/3 of the ganache evenly on that disc and place another on top of it. Repeat until you have four cake layers with ganache in between them.

Return to the freezer while you make the frosting:


4 cups powdered sugar (sifted, if you aren't lazy like me)
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/3-1/2 cup whole milk (start out with 1/3 cup of milk and add more milk to your desired consistency)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Cream butter

2. add everything else, and mix.

Remove the cake from the freezer and spread about half of the frosting on top of the cake. Spread it out evenly over the top and let it spread on to the sides.

When the top is sufficiently frosted, use most of the remaining frosting to spread evenly on the sides. Smooth with a frosting spreader or large knife.

Use additional frosting to garnish as desired, or add fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, bacon, etc.

Powdered Chai Tea Mix

Why you should make some powdered Chai tea mix:
1. It's yummy
2. Other people will think it's yummy
3. It really couldn't be simpler to make
4. It looks cute in a mason jar
5. It has just enough caffeine to make you alert, but not enough to make you jittery
6. TSA will give you weird looks if you take it on planes (I know firsthand...)

Powdered Chai Tea Mix
makes a lot of servings (like 20ish)
adapted from

1 1/3 cup nonfat powdered milk
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup french vanilla non-dairy powdered creamer
2 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea (instant iced tea works okay too)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix everything in a bowl. Stir 2-4 tablespoons of powder in to 1 cup of hot water.